Beyond growth or Beyond capitalism?

When I wrote my first series of posts on the foundations of the green movement, I took my time for the part that I find most interesting from a systems point-of-view: economic models in a sustainable context.

Discussions on sustainable economics focus mainly on the question of green growth, steady-state-economics or economic degrowth. The focus of these discussions is always how to change our current economic paradigm into a system that generates well being for the community while keeping the boundaries of our planet in mind. Because of this, the discussion always starts from our current capitalistic growth based system, and the result is therefor often based on this system.

Last week I read this article on the blog of the P2P Foundation based on an essay by Richard White called “Beyond growth or beyond capitalism?“. Bringing on the idea of a post-capitalistic system is difficult for most people, and discussions on this matter still often strand in a capitalists versus communist stance. Three years ago, on my previous blog, I wrote a blogpost called “The cold war is over” in which I briefly presented 5 different economic strategies.

I have absolutely no idea what economic system to use, but I’m pretty convinced it will be extremely context based. For some organizations, the aggressive, almost addictive character of our current economic system might be just what we need to create an impact, a few years later, that same organization might be in need of a more inclusive, socially based structure in order to decouple wellbeing from welfare and keep working within out planetary boundaries. Systems evolve, it’s time we start to think beyond what’s now. What could be next, what can we learn from things that worked, what can we learn from things that didn’t?

I haven’t read the entire essay yet, but if you want to get this conversation beyond a post-cold war discussion, I recommend you read it with an open mind and somewhere quiet. We need more open discussions on this where we can learn from each other instead of waving the flags of our ideologies.

If we’re going to save the world, I would suggest that humanity is going to have to begin that “broad discussion” Theo Colborn proposed, with people across the whole of society to figure out how to redesign the economy. This could be the starting point of an ecological economic democracy.


About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.

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